Baseball star Mickey Mantle was born Oct. 20, 1931, in Spavinaw, Okla. He was named after the great baseball catcher Gordon “Mickey” Cochrane, who was playing for the Philadelphia Athletics the year Mantle was born.
Mantle played high school and semi-pro ball before signing a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in 1949. After stints with the Independence Yankees in Kansas and the Joplin Miners in Missouri, Mantle made his major league debut playing right field for the New York Yankees on April 7, 1951. He became the Yankees' everyday center fielder the next year.
Known for much of his career as “The Mick,” the switch-hitting Mantle wore No. 7 for the Yankees for 18 exceptional seasons, from 1951 to 1968. He played in 12 World Series and 16 All-Star Games, accumulating a .298 career batting average with 536 home runs.
In a game against the Washington Senators on April 17, 1953, Mantle hit a home run an estimated 565 feet, which today is still considered the longest home run in major league history.
In 1957 he batted a ferocious .365 and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. He was also a solid defensive player, winning the Golden Glove in 1962.
Mantle retired March 1, 1969, and was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. He died of cancer at age 63 on Aug. 13, 1995.
Mantle is commemorated on a 39¢ stamp issued July 15, 2006 (Scott 4083), in the Baseball Sluggers set of four.